How To Support Learning

Good morning all,

Fiona Hall, author of our book ‘Supporting Primary Teaching and Learning‘ has prepared this entry to aid both teaching assistants and student teachers. This book is ideal for those of you looking to gain an invaluable insight into what pursuing a career in education really entails and how best to support learning.

Have a read and let me know your thoughts if you’ve got your own copy at home!

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Supporting Primary Teaching and Learning is an invaluable guide for school Teaching Assistants or as an ideal starting point for undergraduates interested in a career in education. Aimed at the primary sector, this book gives you the low-down on the essentials you need to gain and develop a career in education with the focus on supporting children’s learning. As well as guiding teaching assistants, it provides valuable insight for those aspiring to become teachers.

The book has been written by expert educators Fiona Hall, Duncan Hindmarch, Doug Hoy and Lynn Machin. Fiona, who worked in primary education and teacher training for many years advises, “This book offers some great advice to Teaching Assistants starting on their Higher Education journey and gives supporting literature for their practice in schools”.  Duncan, who heads up the Foundation degree in Education at Staffordshire University explains: We wanted to create a book that would be really useful for Teaching Assistants or students planning careers in the primary education sector. The chapters have been developed to include relevant contemporary subjects.” The book has been organised into key topics which provide you with the information needed to help you be a successful teaching Assistant. Lynn adds, As well as taking a theoretical standpoint, it also has useful practical advice too.”

Lead author Fiona explains: “We’ve kept it relatively short and focuses on some of the priorities with recommendations for further reading when appropriate.”

So, we think this book will be an ideal starting point for Teaching Assistants employed in the sector as well as appealing to undergraduate education students.

If you have any questions you can reach me at hannah@criticalpublishing.com – as always we’d love to hear from you.

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Free Science Extract 3: Introducing the Concept Map

It’s nearly the end of the week so sadly this means it is also nearly the end of National Science Week.

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For those of you that are unaware, this week we’ve been showcasing extracts from our new science book ‘Key Concepts in Primary Science‘.

In this extract we’d like to introduce you to the concept map. Every chapter or “key concept” is introduced first by highlighting the standards laid out in the national curriculum (see yesterday’s blog post here) THEN with a concept map.

Enjoy this concept map of ‘Materials and their properties’.

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For a sample of our new book click here or visit our website.

If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing: hannah@criticalpublishing.com

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How to survive a University Interview

Happy New Year everyone!

So you’ve narrowed down the universities you want to go to, you’ve completed your application forms and you’ve passed the skills test. Now they’ve invited you to interview- DO NOT PANIC. Taylor Cornes, our trainee teacher from the University of Worcester, is back with some great advice for surviving and thriving in university interviews.

The journey of getting to University is made up of different stages: attending open days, choosing the University you wish to study at, completing an application form, and for some courses – mainly Primary Teaching – being interviewed.

The content of each interview varies between Universities, but for Primary Teaching they follow a similar structure. In addition to passing your skills tests, you might be asked to sit a numeracy or literacy test. In the numeracy test, the University is mainly checking to see if your capabilities align with their expectations. This is the same for the literacy test, but some Universities also check for quality of handwriting to ensure that it is legible – as clear handwriting is crucial in a classroom.

For me personally, I got very worked up at the thought of sitting these tests, and the pressure I put on myself, in hindsight, was completely unnecessary. My first tip therefore would be to remain calm and relaxed, and do not let the nerves get the better of you. The whole purpose of a University interview is for members of staff to see the person behind the writing, they want to know you, but this is made difficult if you are extremely nervous.

My second tip for surviving a University interview would be to do some reading around educational changes. This does not mean sitting for hours on end with a stack of newspapers – the internet and apps are useful tools, but you might be asked to discuss any changes within education during your interview, so it is better to be as prepared as can be. One important aspect to remember is that the members of staff who interview you do not want to hear a regurgitated news article; they want you to have your own opinion – and don’t forget you can be critical.

More often than not, at a University interview for Primary Teaching, you will be asked to share any experiences you have relevant to your career choice. Utilise this time and tell the interviewers what you have been up to, what you have learnt from it, and how it will help you in your professional practice as a teacher. Interviews are brilliant for expanding on any points that you have made in your personal statement, and you might be questioned by the interviewers so make sure you are ready.

Professionalism is key when attending interviews for this particular career, you not only need to look the part but try to carry yourself in a way that would portray an individual who was committed to teacher training. Do not be afraid to ask any unanswered questions you might still have – the interviewers don’t bite and have probably been asked the same questions many times before!

The two University interviews that I attended were both positive experiences, and hopefully, after following my advice, you will feel the same.

Our book ‘Getting into Primary Teaching‘ has some further advice to make sure you absolutely ace your university interview so check it out here.

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Are You Digitally Literate?

Everything in this world is now digitalised. E-mails have replaced letters, the cloud has replaced filing cabinets and my phone is my notebook, my calendar and my calculator! It is absolutely vital that children are in tune with this new and exciting digital age and therefore teachers also need to develop ‘digital wisdom’. Moira Savage and Anthony Barnett, authors of our book ‘Digital Literacy for Primary Teachers’ have prepared an exclusive entry about the importance of digital literacy in primary education. Why not have a quick read in your lunchbreak!?

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Digital wisdom, fluency, capability or literacy? You will likely encounter a range of terms used in discussions and reading about the topic, that it can appear baffling. However, what is more important are the definitions given for these words and here the consensus begins to bring us towards a shared understanding of what we are discussing.

Is digital literacy more than a list of technical competencies to train teachers and children in? We would argue strongly that it is much, much more! It is a way of being and acting in our modern digital world. Firstly, should we be discussing digital literacy or literacies? Is the interpretation of digital literacy static or evolving; is it context specific? Are certain values, attitudes and dispositions involved? Are we talking about activities that only involve consuming digital content or those where we produce and create digital content? Belshaw, (2013) states that ‘digital literacies are plural, subjective and highly context dependent’.

Digital Literacy is directly referred to in the National Curriculum for Computing in England for key stages 1 to 4. The purpose is detailed as:

Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world” (DfE 2013).

‘Digital Literacy for Primary Teachers’ gives a comprehensive and practical overview of what this means for today’s teachers and learners. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own digital literacy in order to enhance their professional teaching practice. Major topics and themes are explored in a practical way to provide ideas to support teaching and learning founded on established pedagogic principles. National curriculum links and Teachers’ Standards are identified and readers are challenged by critical questions as well as being offered suggestions for further reading and useful resources.

Chapter maps provide a visual overview of topics covered in each chapter. Highlights from the chapter on digital teaching include extensions to Shulman’s model of teacher knowledge to incorporate a focus on digital technology and a focus on digital technology tools. Affordances of technology are explained so that teachers can start to think about to make the most of digital technology when teaching. The chapter on digital learning considers theoretical models related to multimodal learning, memory and motivation. Well known sources are referred in the context of digital literacy e.g. Moreno & Meyer’s model of the memory; Dweck’s concepts of performance and learning goals; and Malone and Lepper’s taxonomy of intrinsic motivations. Information literacy is often associated with digital literacy and this important theme is explored in detail with a particular focus on search techniques and approaches for critically evaluating information.

Managing file formats is also considered including ideas for pupil activities. The affordances of a networked world include new possibilities for collaboration and communication. Examples are provided of teachers and learners using web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs and podcasting. The book also includes a chapter exploring the various dimensions of digital citizenship including netiquette, digital commerce, data protection and security, copyright and digital access.

Throughout the book readers are prompted to reflect further by case studies and are able to consolidate their developing knowledge by referring to the summaries of critical points at the end of each chapter. Two chapters towards the end of the book directly address the areas that often worry teachers the most; ‘digital identity and footprints of teachers’ and the complementary ‘e-safety and digital safeguarding’ of children. These chapters reflect best practice in the sector, avoid alarmist claims and offer sensible and practical steps to make the most of the exciting networked world that we live in. For both teachers and children the emphasis is on empowerment through education to inform personal and collective decisions relating to online action and real-world consequences.

An extremely topical book with some exciting tips and advice, for more information please see our website.